The Journey Back, Day 6: The Prayer

Then as her fit passed away and her raving went quiet,

Heroic Aeneas began: “No ordeal, O Sibyl, no new

Test can dismay me, for I have foreseen

And foresuffered all. But one thing I pray for

Especially: since here the gate opens, they say,

To the King of the Underworld’s realms, and here

In these shadowy marshes the Acheron floods

To the surface, vouchsafe me one look,

One face-to-face meeting with my dear father.

Point out the road, open the holy doors wide.

On these shoulders I bore him through flames

And a thousand enemy spears. In the thick of fighting

I saved him, and he was at my side then

On all my sea-crossings, battling tempests and tides,

A man in old age, worn out, not meant for duress.

He too it was who half-prayed and half-ordered me

To make this approach, to find and petition you.

Wherefore have pity, O most gracious one,

On a son and a father, for you have the power,

You whom Hecate named mistress of wooded Avernus.

If Orpheus could call back the shade of a wife

By trusting and tuning the strings of his Thracian lyre,

If Pollux could win back a brother by taking the road

Repeatedly in and out of the land of the dead,

If Theseus and Hercules too … But why speak of them?

I myself am of highest birth, a descendant of Jove.”

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